Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy
|Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy|
|Given for||Winning the NBA Finals|
|Most recent||Toronto Raptors|
The Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy is the championship trophy awarded annually by the National Basketball Association (NBA) to the winner of the NBA Finals. The name of the trophy was the Walter A. Brown Trophy until 1984.
The current design, depicting a basketball over a hoop and basket, was first awarded in 1977 still under its original name, which was changed in honor of former NBA commissioner Larry O'Brien who served from 1975 to 1984. Before joining the NBA, O'Brien was the United States Postmaster General under President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1965 to 1968.
The trophy was originally referred to as the NBA Finals trophy, but was renamed in 1964 after Walter A. Brown, the original owner of the Boston Celtics who was instrumental in merging the BAA and the National Basketball League into the NBA in 1949.
The original trophy was awarded to the BAA/NBA champions from 1947 to 1976. The trophy was kept by the winning team for one year and given to the winning team of the following year's finals, unless the previous team won again, much like the NHL's Stanley Cup, which continues that tradition to this day.
The inaugural winners of the trophy were the Philadelphia Warriors, who defeated the Chicago Stags. From 1957 to 1969, the Celtics won the NBA Finals 11 out of 13 times, including eight consecutive wins. The final winners of the trophy were the Boston Celtics, who defeated the Phoenix Suns in the 1976 NBA Finals.
A new trophy design was created for the 1977 NBA Finals, although it retained the Walter A. Brown title. The inaugural winners were the Portland Trail Blazers, who defeated Philadelphia 76ers in six games (4-2). Unlike the original championship trophy, the new trophy was given permanently to the winning team and a new one was made every year.
In 1984, the trophy was renamed to the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, in honor of Larry O'Brien, who served as NBA commissioner from 1975 to 1984. The Boston Celtics were the inaugural winners of the renamed trophy, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games (4–3) in the 1984 NBA Finals.
The current trophy is made out of 15.5 pounds (7 kg) of sterling silver and vermeil with a 24 karat gold overlay and stands 2 feet (61 cm) tall. It is designed to look like a basketball about to enter a net. The year and team names are engraved on the trophies, which are often prominently displayed in the winning team's arena.
The trophy is two feet tall and is made of 15.5 pounds of sterling silver and vermeil with a 24 karat gold overlay. The trophy is manufactured by Tiffany & Co. The championship team maintains permanent possession of the trophy (although one exception exists, as described below). The year and winning team names are engraved on the trophies, and are often prominently displayed in the winning team's arena.
After the sale of the Houston Rockets from Leslie Alexander to Tilman Fertitta in late 2017, Alexander maintained the ownership of the team's 1993-94 and 1994-95 trophies as mementos of his ownership. Thus, the team commissioned Tiffany to create replica versions of both Larry O'Brien trophies (and replacing the 1993-94 trophy, which was unexpectedly dropped and dented by reserve center Richard Petruška during the celebration), which were publicly unveiled on September 20, 2018.
Although the Larry O'Brien Trophy has been compared with the National Hockey League's (NHL) Stanley Cup, it has never been as prominent as the NHL trophy. To reduce this discrepancy, the NBA has been actively promoting the O'Brien Trophy in recent years to generate more recognition and an iconic status for the trophy. The trophy appeared on past logos for the NBA Finals. After the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Finals in 2004, the trophy was toured around the state of Michigan, marking the first time the trophy toured around the state of the winning team. In 2005, the NBA Legends Tour was launched in New York City. As part of the tour, the O’Brien Trophy was showcased in various cities—including those that were hosting the playoffs—for fans' autograph and photo sessions. It was escorted by many former players, including Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell. In May 2007, the NBA unveiled the NBA Headquarters on Second Life, an Internet-based virtual reality environment. With this launch, fans could take pictures with the championship trophy in the virtual Toyota Larry O'Brien Trophy Room. In August, the trophy traveled to Hong Kong for the first time as part of the NBA Madness Asia Tour.
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